Det er Michael Brooks som både har ny bok og ny teori på trappene.
Some pesky scientists have just pointed out an appalling design error in NASA’s latest attempts to find life on Mars. This is beginning to look like a conspiracy. Does someone not want us to find life on Mars?Kort sagt, hvem er det som hindrer Nasa i å finne noe så opplagt som liv på Mars?
NASA has tried looking for signs of life on Mars precisely once, in the 1976 Viking mission. The result was positive. The reason nobody says there is life on Mars is that another experiment, part of the same mission, couldn’t find any carbon-based “organic” chemicals in Martian soil. This, NASA decided, overruled the other result: with no carbon present, there could be no microbes living on or under the surface of Mars.
Last year, the Phoenix lander repeated the carbon search and failed to find organic molecules. The problem is, we know that there ought to be organic molecules on Mars. Asteroid and comet impacts will have put them there. So what’s going on?
Gilbert Levin, who ran the 1976 experiment to search for life, the one that got a positive result, thinks it’s all down to a religious conspiracy dating back to the early 1960s. When I was researching my book 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense, I travelled to Levin’s Maryland offices and listened to his account of the run-up to Viking. In 1961, he told me, the Executive Director of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, invited him to attend a meeting in Washington. When Levin arrived, he found himself among fifteen of the top scientific minds in the US. None of them knew what the meeting was about until John Olive told them he had been charged by NASA with directing an effort to look for life on other planets.I det kjente brevet til Dawkinsittene, kapittel 3,16.
“Phil Abelson, editor of Science magazine, was sitting next to Dean Cowie, a nuclear physicist,” Levin told me. “He grabbed Dean by the arm and audibly said, “Dean, let’s get out of here. The Bible says there can be no life on Mars.”
But I have to admit there is a troubling history here. Rocket scientists joke about the “curse of Mars” because the success rate of spacecraft bound for Mars is lower than 50 per cent. The most famous failure is perhaps the 1998 Mars Climate Orbiter mission, which crashed onto the surface because one team of engineers used imperial units in their design, while the other team used metric.Med andre ord er det bare å planlegge motbøkene.
So, the question remains: have attempts to explore Mars been secretly scuppered by religious scientists keen to keep planet Earth “special”? Have they been hiding their sabotage under a veil of incompetence? Or is it that scientists really can be astonishingly incompetent without any outside help? Only Dan Brown’s next novel can tell us.
I mens får vi håpe at Inkvisisjonen får tatt heretikerne som står bak konspirasjonen.